As a passionate big game hunter I’m always on the lookout for something that will create a more enjoyable, possibly successful hunt. Over the years through trial and error, I’ve acquired a feel for what will work, what won’t and what new products may be worth trying.
Being prepared in the backcountry starts with the proper clothing. Flash storms can roll in quickly, turning an 85 degree, sunny afternoon into 45 and raining or even snowing. Sitka Gear of Montana has taken all the advancements of high-end outdoor layering systems and plugged them into a great hunting lineup: comfortable, wicking base layers, warm midlayers and jackets for cool mornings, and waterproof/breathable rain gear for the heaviest downpours. Sitka’s systematic approach to gear has changed the way we hunt in the mountain west.
Another huge boon to hunters in the high country is a quality set of optics. Being able to find game from distant ridges is a massive advantage. For years the best optics manufacturers were the European glass makers like Swarovski and Leica, but American-made Vortex rivals them with a super, high-quality optic and the best warranty in the industry. All this at price points that wont break the bank.
The latest archery equipment from such players as Mathews, PSE, Bear, Bowtech and G-5 all fit the bill for a successful bow hunt. My advice: visit a local pro shop, shoot the bow that interests you, and compare it to like bows from other manufacturers. For black powder, I’m partial to Thompson Center Arms. They make a quality, reliable, accurate black powder rifle that will make a difference in your hunt. Come rifle season, my go to is a Browning X-bolt 7mm, which offers plenty of power and downrange ability for elk, deer and bear.
A good quality day pack also is important. I recently switched to the Sitka Flash 32; after trying it on, it felt like it was made for me. In it I can haul the necessities for a single day to an overnight in its 3,200-cubic-inch capacity. It’s hydration bladder compatible, has a ventilated suspension system, multiple access points to the main compartment and a spotting scope sleeve. Micro adjustability makes it easy to fit in a moment’s notice and it can handle an elk quarter for that first load out.
Having all the necessities to get to work after you’ve harvested your elk is paramount. Game bags, knives, twine to hang quarters or hold a leg if you’re alone, headlamp, scent free wipes, small first aid kit, firestarter, water filter and food are a start. A pack that fits and is functional like the Flash 32 has become my most important piece of equipment because it’s going to carry all these necessary items to keep you moving comfortably and safe.
For going overnight, Big Agnes makes light, high quality tents, sleeping bags and pads, all from their base in Northwest Colorado. There are dozens of options to choose from, all of which will contribute to a more comfortable night’s sleep in the backcountry for a more enjoyable day in the field.